Photo - Sajith Sivanandan, Country Manager, Google Malaysia.
According to new research announced by Google, Malaysia's smartphone penetration has increased 300 percent since 2011 - when just one in 10 Malaysians owned a smartphone - as more than one out of three now own a smartphone.
The study, conducted by Ipsos MediaCT, also shows an increased engagement with mobility with 57 percent using their smartphones on a daily basis, which is higher than both the US and the UK, while three in five Malaysians will not leave home without their phone every day.
Google Malaysia country manager Sajith Sivanandan said the increase in mobile penetration pointed out opportunities for businesses. "Malaysian consumers have embraced smartphones, but Malaysian businesses have yet to follow."
"It all comes down to basics: know your customer. The opportunity is significant, but if you can't be found on mobile, you are sending business to your competitors," said Sivanandan, adding that the majority of large advertisers in Malaysia don't yet have a mobile website.
The study confirmed that business in Malaysia was being transformed by smartphones. Nine out of 10 Malaysian smartphone owners have researched a product or service from their device while three in five who start research on smartphones go on to complete purchases on a desktop; one in two complete their purchase offline.
Products (69 percent) aren't the only thing mobile-savvy Malaysians are searching for. Other hot searches include travel (57 percent), restaurants and bars (53 percent) and even job offers (49 percent).
All businesses are touched by mobile
Sivanandan said Google's research showed that mobile is big for small and medium business in Malaysia as well. Ninety-four percent of smartphone owners have searched for local information, while nine out of 10 have taken action as a result: such as contacting the business, visiting in person, or buying or booking something online and two in five Malaysians search for local information on a daily basis.
In addition, 95 percent of Malaysian smartphone owners report noticing mobile ads. In addition to building and maintaining mobile-friendly websites, which people can navigate easily without pinching or zooming, businesses can take advantage of Malaysia's smartphone boom by running mobile advertising campaigns on search engines, mobile websites, or smartphone apps, he said.
"Big or small, national or local, there is no business in Malaysia which isn't being transformed by smartphones," said Sivanandan. "If you're an advertiser wondering when to develop your smartphone strategy, the answer is 'yesterday'."
He added that Malaysian consumers haven't just gone mobile--they've gone multiscreen. While 41 percent of Malaysian smartphone owners would give up their TV rather than their mobile (this was 33 percent in 2011), a greater percentage prefer to use both at the same time: 43 percent of Malaysian smartphone owners regularly use their devices while watching TV, while 56 percent do so while browsing the web on desktop.
"We used to tell marketers to go mobile, but it's clear that's no longer enough," said Sivanandan. "Malaysian consumers are master multitaskers, and businesses need to start creating campaigns that work across all screens: desktop, tablet, mobile and television."
In partnership with Ipsos MediaCT, Google interviewed a total of 500 Malaysian online adults (18-64 years of age) who identified themselves as using a smartphone to access the Internet. The distribution is according to a national representative CATI Study. The interviews were conducted in Q1 2013. Country reports are available for the 48 countries in the 2013 research and users can access the raw country level data.
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